Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/231

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217
DEVELOPMENT OF OUR YOUNG WOMEN.

THE SYMMETRICAL DEVELOPMENT OF OUR YOUNG WOMEN.
By C. E. BREWSTER.

WHILE reading an earnest paper upon Conversational Immoralities, by Mrs. Amelia Barr (North American Review, April, 1890), I came across the following sentences: "There are bad people in the world, but young girls should never be near enough to them to be aware of the fact"; and "Women of whose lives young girls should, at least, seem to be innocent, are topics of conversation."

Now, while I am in full sympathy with the general tenor of this article, deploring as deeply as the author the increasing flippancy of speech of both old and young on this, the gravest question of the day, the sentences noted above, together with some others scattered throughout the article, move me to offer to your candid consideration a few pertinent facts aiming to prove that, where the reverse principle obtains, the highest good inevitably results to all who come within the radius of the pure young woman's intelligent interest and sympathy.

After comparing, for years, the general influence of the purely innocent woman with that of the pure and morally intelligent young woman of our day, I am so thoroughly convinced of the more abiding influence of the latter class that my earnestness impels me to try to show you a little more clearly the moral standpoint and resultant work of this unobtrusive but most potent factor in the refinement of society. Undoubtedly in this work, as in every other field of life, numberless opportunities arise for the sensational and supersentimental to gain (in the guise of philanthropy) the notoriety dear to their hearts. Not infrequently the novelty of the work appeals to many a young woman who, through immaturity and excess of zeal, brings upon herself condemnation where she sought elevation, failure where she sought success. But shall we therefore be discouraged? Shall we change our point of view simply because the few imprudent fall short of the good which they hoped to gain, because the few sensational pervert and distort the cause which we are trying to uplift? Shall the good actually accomplished by the greater number be tabooed because of the failure of the few?

A system which aims to conceal vice, rather than to suppress it by full knowledge, in reality fosters its existence. High ideals invariably beget correspondingly high realizations. For example, in many European cities it is considered not merely a daring breach of etiquette, but a social challenge, for a young woman to walk the streets unaccompanied by a protecting person.